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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst: The kind of sequel that makes you go ‘meh’

Follow up to the cult hit improves on predecessor but creates new problems
Sadly, the follow up to cult hit Mirror’s Edge doesn’t quite make the cut, but the new ideas it tries out certainly make for interesting gameplay.

The action of the first Mirror’s Edge game was novel and distinct. 

It was defined by its first-person parkour action and stark, dystopian cityscape. Sprinting across rooftops and running along walls was exhilarating and disorienting, helped along by fantastic level design and an interesting world. 

Not everything about the game was amazing, but it quickly garnered a cult following, which inevitably led to calls for a sequel. 

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is the answer to this call. It takes the rock solid foundation laid down by the first and builds upon it, adding its own mechanics to push the series forward. 

Sadly, it doesn’t quite make the cut, but the new ideas it tries out certainly make for interesting gameplay.

This isn’t a review per se, but rather a look at one of the biggest games of June — its pros, cons and everything in-between

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst isn’t a direct sequel. Rather, it’s a story that takes place in the same universe as the first game and stars the same character. It has all the makings of a sequel, but taking this approach allowed the developers to avoid being tied down by the story of the first title.  

The story follows Faith, a young “runner” trying to make her mark on the corrupt world that left her an orphan and took away everyone she cared about. Runners are free-running artists who make a living acting outside the view of the watchful eye of the law. They stick to the rooftops, delivering packages and covert information in the dystopian world of the game (the story unfolds in a place called the City of Glass).

Faith gets out of prison as the game opens and immediately gets back to the rooftops. Gameplay consists of clambering up, running along or vaulting over walls. You make your way across the city, taking on missions and finding the best ways to navigate the concrete jungle.

I won’t get into story details here for fear of spoilers, but the narrative was incredibly mundane. It exists only to push you from point A to B. Few characters have enough depth to make you actually care about them. The story also tries to bring a few too many groups into the fray, complicating proceedings much more than necessary. Thankfully, the story still pushes players into plenty of unique scenarios.

Working your way up a skyscraper to plant a bug on its spire or infiltrating a government lab is tense and thrilling. The areas are generally well designed and let you take full advantage of your mobility. 

Despite being contained, they still offer up plenty of diversity in how you can approach each objective.

While the first game was at its best when you were sprinting through the world, the first person platforming action of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is much more refined than the relatively boring slower sections of its predecessor. Figuring out which platform to jump to next or which handhold to latch onto is a puzzle in itself, tasking players with finding a creative solution to relatively simple problems.

One mission will send you into a giant computer system, deftly dodging lasers to shut the whole thing down, while the next will be a high-octane race against the clock to deliver a package. There are only a few types of missions, but they all offer up different variations of the game’s first-person action.

Running around feels great, but stopping to punch and kick baddies is disappointingly lacklustre. You only have two types of attacks: heavy and light punches or kicks. You can kick off the environment to gain more velocity and put more bite behind your strikes, but it doesn’t make the combat any less cumbersome. 

The running is fun and immersive, but the world you run through is surprisingly bland compared to that of the original. The previously super-saturated world has been dimmed down until all that remains are countless white rooftops that all have the same smudges of dirt smeared across their surfaces. 

Nothing really stands out. Every new environment feels like an expansion of the last with the addition of different colored lights. It’s a shame, especially considering how stellar the world of Mirror’s Edge was in the first game. 

The graphics still pop at times, but the uniformity seriously hurts the style. It just isn’t that much fun to run across what looks like the exact same rooftop again and again. After a while, it begins to lose its allure.

The addition of an open world means you can run wherever you please, or at least that’s what it says on the back of the box. In reality, there are only several ways to get to anyone place because you have to stick to the roofs and pipes that snake around the buildings.

It’s entertaining to leap from roof to roof, stopping only to pull yourself up onto the next ledge. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that you are more or less running in a straight line that the game wants you to travel along.

All in all, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst improved upon the shortcomings of the first game while simultaneously creating new problems along the way. Its new ideas are tantalizing, but they can’t hide the problems that keep it from attaining greatness, much like its predecessor. 

If you’re a fan of the original you might still find it fun, but otherwise, it will likely only hold your attention for several hours before a better game comes along.

Matthew Herst is a Carleton University communications student, video game journalist and’s resident geek writer. Yeah, this guy love’s video games. Besides, you can also find his work on Follow him on Twitter @supergurst.


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